For those of you who don't know it, my job is assembling and disassembling exhibits for trade shows and conventions. The first 2 months of the year are my busiest time and often generate over 30 % of my annual income. I'm sharing this so you'll understand if I don't post too often until sometime in March.
Today I want to offer up my suggestions for reworking the IRS and other taxes.
First, I'ld like to address Social Security. This might be "untouchable" to some politicians but the reality is it HAS to be changed in order to continue to provide the benefits we have come to expect from it. Here are the changes I propose: 1)Stop the cap! Why should people who make above a certain amount quit paying the SS tax on higher income? The system was designed to use a percentage of everyone persons income to provide a safety net for disability and old age. When we allow some individuals (and their employers matching contributions!) to stop at a given point, we're in effect cutting off a source of revenue from the people who can most afford to pay it! 2)Quit allowing government employees to avoid paying SS. The theory was they have a pension plan so will not need Social Security, but the reality is that many, if not most, work in the private sector also allowing them to collect, despite not paying into the system for 20 to 30 years!! 3) Instead of just raising the age of eligibility, why not institute an age based tier system? I recommend lowering the initial age people can collect to 60, but raising the percentage they can collect for every 2 years they postpone receiving it. (The following are just examples because I haven't done the research on exact numbers or percentages) People my age don't get the maximum payout unless wait until 70 to retire. Under my system, for every year you collect early, you lose 6%. If you do feel compelled to collect at 60, you get SS but only 40% of the amount you'ld have received for waiting until 70. If you collect at 65, you get 70%, etc...
But here's the REAL kicker: I also propose you get an EXTRA 3 percent for every year you postpone retirement AFTER 70. This addresses the fact that people are living longer and are able to continue working later, while also giving folks an incentive to wait longer to collect.
Now to tackle the nightmare that is the IRS! Our tax code has become so complicated that virtually no one understands ALL the provisions and loopholes in it. I propose simplifying the personal income portion of the tax code first. To start, we need both a flat tax base line AND deduction limits.
To begin I would use 20% as the percentage we pay for federal income tax, with a 1% increase for each additional 10,000 dollars of income AFTER deductions, up to a maximum of 60%. (This would mean you would have to be making WELL OVER 400,000 a year before you were paying the maximum tax rate!)
Next we address deductions. The standard deduction should be current minimum wage times 40 hours times 52 weeks a year.
(Currently $7.25 X 40 X 52 for a total of 15, 080.) Add to that 2000 for non-working spouse/sig. other, and also 2000 per child up to a maximum of 2 children. (If your religion, personal preference or lack of birth control gives you more than 2 children, the rest of the taxpayers shouldn't be expected to subsidize them!) The only other deduction I would consider is the deduction for mortgage interest because home ownership DOES help make for more stable communities, but I would also limit that severely.
If we do choose to allow for a mortgage interest deduction I would limit it in this manner: Only allow the interest deduction for the first 10 years AND limit it to the first X amount of a principal mortgage. (In this case X would be 5 times the poverty line for a family of four. Say that is currently 22000 a year, then only 110,000.00 of a home mortgage interest would be allowed. People who purchase a house for less would only be allowed to deduct the actual interest paid and those who can afford more shouldn't be rewarded for already being better off financially.)[Note: taxpayers already allow the wealthy to deduct interest paid on multi-million dollar homes, in effect, subsidizing home mortgages for the rich.] ALL other of the current deductions would cease!!
I need to do more research before I can intelligently offer reforms for the business side of taxes.
Students of American history can tell you that our liberties, social and civil, have been eroding for over 100 years. Whatever happened to Common Law? Under common law there had to be an injured party (Someone whose person or property had suffered damage.) before there could be charges levied against a person. There was no fictional party such as city, state, country or corporation filing charges with the exception of treason. If you look at charges people face today, you'll find most are being prosecuted for violating the U.C.C. (Universal Commercial Code!) We've let ourselves enter into a social contract wherein we give up liberty in exchange for other rights and privileges such as the right to use promissory notes (money since it is no longer backed by anything of value such as gold) social services (Social Security, Medicare etc..) Police, Fire Departments etc..
The TSA has become another of those services that we receive, irregardless of our personal opinions of how they provide that service. That agency has been persuaded to purchase and use the body scanning equipment. Since we so readily buy into fear (We invaded 2 countries who have , at best, minimal ties to the terrorists who attacked on 9/11 because fearful Americans demanded action.) the cost and invasive nature of these scanners is secondary to our social liberty.
Health care costs in the US include over 30% in "admin. costs" while that same costs in countries with socialized medicine is less than 3%. (Hasn't anyone noticed that Insurance companies are really just an unnecessary middleman collecting fees for medical services?) But the latest health care reform bill was gutted to make sure that we didn't have an alternative to using insurance companies.
Companies who deal in weaponry and oil companies are enjoying record profits while the average citizen (Not just in the US but worldwide) is suffering a diminishing quality of life. I recently read an article that mentioned that many US companies are enjoying record profits... Because the are producing more with fewer US workers!
Our forefathers created the best system they could, at that time in history. That was well over 225 years ago. We live in a new age where communication over 1000's of miles takes seconds, not weeks. We no longer need rely on representatives to make the will of the people known. As long as these representatives are beholden to campaign contributors, more so than the people who voted for them, we will never truly have anything that resembles a democracy.
(Just how many of you would have voted for senators and congressmen to receive full retirement and free medical care for life after serving as little as 2 to 6 years, if you had had a say?)
If we truly want freedom and equality, we will have to force some major changes in our government that includes the personal responsibility for our actions.
The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world.....by numbers and percentage. The cost is staggering. If you look at how much we're paying to house non-violent offenders, you would think that someone would work on alternative punishments... and they are with limited success.
There are factors that aren't being considered here. Once convicted of a felony, a person loses the right to to work in many fields, in some places the right to vote is also removed. We have to consider these factors leading to a permanent under-class in America. If you imprison people you remove them from competing for jobs and you create jobs in the law enforcement and corrections fields, lowering the unemployment rate but increasing the tax burden. Did you know you can buy stock in prison industries? My question is how can someone in good conscience buy a stock that in affect, makes them a partial slave owner? Prisoners are forced to work ..sometimes being compensated at a rate of 3 dollars a day but often with no compensation except a reprieve from harsher punishments like solitary confinement!!
I really don't have too many answers to these problems, but the first step in solving any problem is by making as many people as possible aware the problem exists. This is my first step.
Personally, I believe we've let our government become more representative of capitol and less representative of the people. Many of our laws are in place to insure profits (or tax breaks) for the companies and individuals who can afford to pay lobbyists. Here are a few examples: Insurance companies have managed to get mandatory insurance and mandatory seat belt laws enacted. The year that insurance became mandatory in Georgia (We had been promised that if everyone HAD to have auto insurance then overall costs would go down because we'ld no longer be paying for uninsured motorists!) insurance premiums doubled for me. A guaranteed demand negates the supply side of the equation. While seat belts laws have in fact saved lives, it has also saved the insurance companies millions of dollars but that savings went to investors, not customers.
You can incorporate your business so if it fails, your personal assets are not forfeit. What about company owners who pay themselves excessive salaries for a few years while bankrupting their companies? Why isn't there a limit on the amount of assets protected to prevent this type of unethical robbery?
Then we have the tax code which favors the wealthy. If you can afford a lavish overseas vacation, all you need do is have one business meeting during that time and the entire costs can be deducted from your taxable income.
Individual liberties are taken in the name of the greater good. People are incarcerated because of actions that have the potential to harm others, regardless of whether or not anyone else is actually hurt by them. Morality can NOT be legislated. Drug use and prostitution have been around for thousands of years. Instead of helping educate prostitutes so they have other means of income, or offering counseling and rehab for drug users, we choose to incarcerate them. This harms society in 3 ways: 1)It reduces the chances for those people to get jobs with adequate income to survive. 2)It increases our taxes because of the increased need for law enforcement and prisons & 3)We destroy families by removing a parent with a problem, increasing the likelihood the children will grow up in poverty and experiencing the exact same problems.
The way government should work is this: We should hold people accountable for the actual harm they do, not punish them for actions just because they have the potential to cause harm. We should have a single tax rate that only increases 1% per 10k of income whether that income be earned, capitol gains or inherited.
We can now communicate instantly across thousands of miles. We should no longer be having representatives crafting laws and having the only votes on them. Their job should now be to help craft legislation suggested by their constituents. Then the entire country, state or county should have a vote on them. I agree with the supreme court that we should be allowed to spend money on commercials advocating our beliefs... but those same advertisements should have to disclose exactly who pays for them, instead of allowing them to hide behind names of secondary organizations. (How many of us would have voted for free lifetime healthcare and full retirement for representatives after serving 6 years or less had it been put to a nationwide vote?) If you'ld like to discuss it further feel free to contact me
This is a complex problem that requires a mixture of changes. Right now over 30% of our health care costs is attributed to "administration costs", aka insurance companies! In countries with universal health care it averages less than 2%.(Should we really have to pay a middle-man for health care?)
In Japan the government sets the prices that can be charged for medical procedures. They are set so low that you can stay 3 nights in a hospital for less than a night in a motel. We should be doing that to some extent but not so harshly that the doctors have to have vending machines and charge for parking as they must in Japan. (I think perhaps a sliding fee scale, dependent on income, might be the best way to achieve this.) Then make medicare/medicaid a catastrophic care resource and retirement supplemental insurance.
We also know that fraud is rampant in those systems and lots of tests get done because the providers know they'll be paid by tax dollars. In order to cut down on this, I suggest doctors pay a penalty for tests with negative results. Now there is a 2 tier system I believe would stop this from keeping doctors from not performing necessary tests. First, having them contribute 20% of testing fees into a general medical care fund. Second, make the penalties based on a percentage basis: Testing that produces useful results DIVIDED by tests that yield negative results.
(I'ld have to do further research to give exact percentages so the following are strictly examples!) Say we decide the median acceptable ratio is 17/5. Doctors who hit that figure exactly pay no penalties and receive no refunds. Doctors who have 18-21/5 might get back 20% of the money they paid into the fund, and an additional 5% for every positive test result per 5 negatives up to a maximum of 90% of the aforementioned fees. Doctors with 16-14/5 would PAY an additional 3%, plus an additional 3% for every time the top number goes down one.
I'm sure there are other measures that would help but these reforms seem the most fair and reasonable to me at this time.